Employees don’t have to win their sexual harassment claims to prove retaliation. They merely have to show they were concerned that they might have experienced harassment.
Recent case: Juana Sallis heard through a co-worker that another employee was falsely bragging about a relationship with Sallis. She found this offensive and complained under the company’s sexual harassment policy. She was then fired for not signing out before leaving early. She sued, saying this was a setup—and thus retaliation.
The company argued that the rumor wasn’t sexual harassment, and therefore Sallis hadn’t made a protected complaint. But the court explained that Sallis didn’t have to prove she was harassed—just that she took advantage of the company policy to report what she believed was harassment. (Sallis v. Portfolio Ambassador East, No. 07-CV-2911, ND IL, 2008)
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- Investigate or else! When harassment surfaces, HR inquiries and action could be worth millions